Sneak peek: Michigan State # 5 in quest to continue Cinderella’s season at Purdue


Last week was quite the weekend in East Lansing.

Down 16 points in the third quarter, Michigan State came back strong to defeat Michigan, 37-33, in one of the most entertaining games of the college football season. Junior running back Kenneth Walker III put the team on their backs with a five touchdown performance, solidifying in the Heisman Trophy race.

The Spartans’ magical 8-0 season continues this Saturday as MSU No.5 travels to West Lafayette, Indiana to face Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium.

MSU used the week off two weeks ago not only to prepare for the big game of the rivalry, but also to help regain health. Most notably, graduate defensive end Drew Beesley and junior running back Elijah Collins have joined the squad after missing long periods of injury. Beesley played some important snaps, but only made one tackle on Saturday. Collins, the team’s top rusher in 2019, dressed but didn’t play on offense.

However, in addition to occasionally posting Arby’s promotional videosCollins has become one of Walker’s No.1 fans, even though his playing time has declined significantly over the past two seasons.

The Spartans could, however, be without red-shirted junior wide receiver Jalen Nailor, who left Saturday’s game late in the first half and sat on the sidelines for the second half with an envelope in his right hand. Nailor is the team’s second-best receiver with 587 yards and six touchdowns, including a 221-yard one, three touchdowns against Rutgers and a 40-yard key catch on the 4th down in the first half last week. Michigan State Football head coach Mel Tucker did not have an update Monday regarding Nailor’s status, leaving his availability in question.

Additionally, the top college football playoff standings fell on Tuesday night, with MSU making their debut at No.3. The committee compared Michigan State to No.2 Alabama, which would be a rematch of the only time the Spartans have made the qualifiers in 2015. This is the first time MSU has been in the CFP’s top 25 since 2018.

Opponent Scouting

The Boilermakers enter Saturday 5-3 in what has been a roller coaster season.

For starters, they’re not the same old Purdue team that the Spartans have beaten eight straight since 2007. The Boilermakers scored a big win on Oct. 16 when they hit the road and beat the No. 2 Iowa in Iowa City. The win placed Purdue 25th in the AP poll, the first time they’ve made it into the top 25 since 2007. It was a short stint in the standings after the Boilermakers lost 17 points at home to Wisconsin in the week. next.

Purdue’s win over Iowa proves that Purdue is a team that cannot be taken lightly. The Boilermakers have 16 wins against the top five teams while not ranked, which is the highest score in the country. Purdue also went 6-10 all-time against the top two teams following the loss to Iowa.

“We’re not going to settle for less this week, just elite level preparation and focus and intention in everything we do,” Tucker said. “Nothing casual. And like I said, if there’s flippancy about someone, they won’t make this trip. They will not get on the bus to get to the airport. They will not be making this trip.

The Boilermakers are a heavy attacker and play well defensively too. Junior quarterback Jack Plummer was the starting quarterback to start the season, but has since been benched in favor of fifth-year quarterback Aidan O’Connell. Between the two callers, Purdue throws for 307.1 yards per game, the Big Ten’s third best.

Junior wide receiver David Bell, who is one of the Big Ten’s best, assists Plummer and O’Connell. He’s a receiving machine averaging 7.6 catches for 112.3 yards per game. Bell was unstoppable against Iowa, capturing 11 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.

“He’s a good football player,” Michigan State high school coach Harlon Barnnett said. “Long, smooth, good roads, good ball skills. He has a great catch radius so he’s going to be a challenge for us, but we’re looking forward to him.

On the other side of the ball, Purdue has solid defense, especially when defending the pass. Only two quarterbacks threw for two touchdowns against the Boilermakers, Jack Coan of Notre Dame and most recently Adrian Martinez of Nebraska. Neither team has pitched for three or more touchdowns on Purdue’s defense this year.

Junior defensive end George Karlaftis is the star of Purdue’s defense and that’s a big reason they are allowing just 17.1 points per game. Statistics don’t necessarily show it, but Michigan State offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic said he had similarities to Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who the Spartans saw the Last weekend.

Kick-off is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on ABC.

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